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April 6, 2010 - Modification to Landsat 5’s Acquisition Plan

During Landsat 5’s first 25 years, the Thematic Mapper (TM) sensor acquired data over assigned ground stations regardless of cloud cover or season.

This resulted in the collection of significant numbers of TM scenes unsuitable for analysis. In order to maximize the life of the components on the spacecraft, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Flight Operations Team has begun creating a new scheduling tool, designed to avoid acquiring data over areas considered to be too cloudy or off-season. Other variables will also be analyzed, including the time period since the scene was last acquired, the location of calibration sites, the degree of land area overlap between scenes, and more.

Although this is a substantial change to Landsat 5 operations, the USGS believes the effect of the change will be to maximize quality data acquisitions, reduce the number of unusable scenes in the archive, and extend the life of the mission. The new acquisition plan will maintain the long-standing policy of prioritizing collection of the continental U.S., while continuing to provide direct downloads to our International Cooperators. If you have any questions or concerns about the new Landsat 5 acquisition plan, please contact our customer service representatives at